How has the recent pandemic affected the Indian student’s dream of studying abroad?

The global pandemic has drastically changed the perspective of Indian students seeking to study abroad. However, with a landscape normalizing, countries and universities have made changes to ease entry and admissions processes, suggesting that pandemics are temporary, but education is here to stay. Consequently, there has been an upsurge in Indian students applying abroad for higher education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted industries around the world, and the education sector has been no exception. With severely restricted international travel, students faced travel difficulties even as universities limited their admission of international students. However, with the implementation of health standards and comprehensive vaccinations, the global higher education industry has also begun to recover. The empowerment and upward mobility offered by education could not be underestimated and was evident in the way the sector rebounded.

Impact of COVID-19: It’s time to go beyond the classroom

Restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the way we learn, work and live. From schools to universities, the education system has been revamped to accommodate distance learning and meet the diverse needs of students. Another key change centered on the need for practical training beyond the university degree. The fallout from these changes has raised questions about the value offered by traditional universities in India.

This confirmed the relevance of an international education for many students. Especially as overseas colleges have evolved to better attract industry and have merged opportunities for students to gain work experience through co-op programs. What has remained unchanged are the added benefits of studying in a different country, outside of one’s comfort zone, which has also fostered the development of life skills, from communication to greater self-awareness, empathy, adaptability and cultural sensitivity.

Upcoming trends in the education sector

The perceived value of an international degree is reflected in the increase in the number of applicants applying for study abroad, which has increased this year and is expected to exceed previous benchmarks. Clearly, student aspirations to earn higher education degrees abroad have rebounded strongly.

Additionally, many governments have reintroduced several measures to attract international students to their universities even as pandemic-related restrictions have been eased. The Canadian government has changed its laws, allowing international students to complete their studies at Canadian universities in a virtual format with a temporary extension of the PGWP (Post Graduation Work Permit). More recently, the US government has added 22 additional subjects under the STEM OPT (optional practical training) program for international students, which additionally allows them to live in the US for 36 months after graduation. And finally, the UK has extended its post-study work visa from 6 months to 2 years to attract more international students.

(Institutionally, several elite American universities have opted to take optional tests, which means applicants are no longer required to submit standardized test scores like the SAT or ACT. Part of this effort is to ensure that all applicants have a fair opportunity to apply and be admitted, regardless of the availability of test centers in their area.

Long term investment

International degrees from elite universities are seen as a long-term investment by students and parents. Reputable colleges also provide valuable exposure as they help broaden horizons, instill an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, and provide cutting-edge knowledge and skills. This is better reflected in the world rankings. Universities and colleges in the United States top most rankings for studies in business management, engineering, mathematics and computer science, while Australia offers some of the best courses in accounting, psychology , engineering and tourism.

The most important benefit of studying abroad is the unparalleled opportunity to be taught and mentored by the world’s best academic teachers and subject matter experts. Students at an international university can also benefit from research assistantships, apprenticeships and summer internships at leading global companies such as Google or Facebook or small start-ups and cutting-edge companies, which add much-needed exposure and perspective to the industry.

With global education back on track after a two-year hiatus, students once again yearn for top-notch education and exposure. This renewed interest and opportunity among the best universities in the world is converging to make this sharp drop in the number of applicants for higher education courses abroad an almost forgotten chapter of history.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.